The late Roman and early medieval Mediterranean worlds were ones touched strongly by the acceptance, spread and influence of Christianity. In discussing town and country, death and burial, society and even economy, the impact of the Church is often central: by AD 400 in Italy, the bulk of the urban populus was Christian (at least nominally), churches dominated the exterior of and the approaches to towns, the Church was one of the largest landowners, former pagan sanctuary sites lay redundant, Christian literature abounded, art was being redefined, and even ceramics (tablewares and lamps) from north Africa and the East and coinage featured Christian symbols. In society itself, bishops and clerics grew to increasing prominence in urban and state contexts, to the degree that by the late sixth century in imperial territories, it was the church staff in combination with army officers who ordered and maintained towns and their territories; in Lombard territories, urban and rural revival from the early eighth century was marked by extensive foundations of monasteries and churches. The Church became the main focus of patronage, large and small, state and private, to the degree that whilst from the fifth century we lose sight of much private building and of any public display as investment in former traditional areas of patronage (games, festivals and temples, baths) disappears, so church buildings become key structural survivors. By the late ninth century for the vast majority of towns and for much of the countryside we have only the evidence of churches – foundations, extant buildings, stray sculptural works, texts – to demonstrate human activity (since houses, ceramics, coins, market spaces, and sometimes even burials are lacking for much of the period AD 700-1000).